National victimization survey data indicate that over 2 million teenagers are victims of violent crime annually; this survey explored the issue of weapon-related victimization among inner-city youths attending high schools with histories of violence.
Surveys were completed by 1,591 students, 758 males and 833 females, in 120 inner city public high schools in California, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Illinois. In all cases, local high school administrators viewed the issue of guns and violence among students as highly politically charged. They consented to the survey only with the guarantee that their districts and schools would not be identified in research results. The average age of respondents was 16 years, and the modal educational attainment level was 10th grade. Of those surveyed, 75 percent were black, 16 percent Hispanic, 2 percent white, and 7 percent other. All respondents were from cities with populations exceeding 250,000. About 31 percent of respondents reported having been arrested or picked up by the police at least once. Respondents were asked whether they had been shot at with a gun, stabbed with a knife, or injured with a weapon other than a gun or a knife while at school or in transit to and from school over the past few years. Survey findings revealed that exposure to a dangerous environment significantly raised the risk of weapon-related victimization for respondents. Sociodemographic characteristics were not highly predictive of violent victimization. Victimization status did not differ significantly among respondents across racial and ethnic lines, age categories, and grade levels. Only sex seemed to affect victimization, with males significantly more likely to have experienced a shooting, stabbing, or other weapon-related assault. Respondents with arrest records, those who had stolen something worth at least $50, and those who had used a weapon to commit a crime were more likely to have been victimized. The dangerous environment outside school was related to violent victimization, but the dangerous environment inside school was less obviously related. The authors conclude that schools do not generate weapon-related violence as much as they represent the location where violence spawned outside the school environment is enacted. 17 references and 3 tables
Date Published: January 1, 1994